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News: UK Muslims Go to Baghdad to Seek Hostage's Release

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  • Al-Fatiha - LGBTIQ Muslims
    UK Muslims seek hostage s release - From CNN.com - Saturday, September 25, 2004 KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (Reuters) -- Prominent British Muslims arrived in Kuwait on
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 25 9:26 PM
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      UK Muslims seek hostage's release - From CNN.com - Saturday, September
      25, 2004

      KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (Reuters) -- Prominent British Muslims arrived in
      Kuwait on Saturday en route to Baghdad to plead for the release of
      hostage Kenneth Bigley, nine days after the 62-year-old engineer was
      kidnapped.

      "I believe and always maintain hope in the mercy of Allah," Daud
      Abdullah, a member of the delegation from the Muslim Council of Britain
      (MCB) told Reuters Television at Kuwait International Airport.

      "And we are hopeful that Mr. Bigley is alive and that we will be able
      to exert some influence with those who hold him hostage," he said. "We
      have no reason to doubt that he is alive."

      The kidnappers are threatening to kill Bigley unless women prisoners
      held in Iraq are freed, but have set no deadline. They have already
      beheaded two Americans seized with him.

      An Islamist Web site, which has posted unsubstantiated claims about
      hostages in the past, said on Saturday Bigley had been killed. The
      British Foreign Office said it believed the Web site lacked credibility
      and could not confirm such a claim.

      A British embassy official told Reuters in Kuwait City the MCB
      delegation members will fly shortly to Iraq via military aircraft from
      Mubarak Air Base near the civilian airport. The air base is used by the
      U.S.-led multinational forces in the Gulf Arab state.

      Abdullah said the delegation hopes to meet with some of the religious
      leaders and scholars in Iraq, including the leadership of the High
      Association of Muslim Scholars.

      "We are calling on those who are holding him to be merciful," Inayat
      Bunglawala, a spokesman for MCB said earlier in Britain. The MCB is the
      largest group representing Britain's 1.8 million Muslims.

      "Our religion, Islam, does not allow us to harm the innocent and we
      will urge them to release Ken Bigley back into the arms of his family."

      The Muslim Association of Britain, an affiliate of the MCB, said it had
      also appeared on Arabic television station Al Jazeera to make a direct
      appeal to the kidnappers for Bigley's safe release.

      The pleas came after the British government said it had distributed
      50,000 leaflets in Baghdad, at the request of Bigley's family who want
      to exhaust all means possible to save him from a group led by al Qaeda
      ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

      "A family man called Ken Bigley is being held somewhere in your
      community," said the leaflet in Arabic. "Ken's mother, brothers, wife
      and child love him dearly. We are appealing for your help."

      An Iraqi company went round Baghdad on Thursday handing out the
      leaflet, which had numbers for the British Embassy and local police,
      officials at the Foreign Office in London said.

      "We appeal to those who have taken him to please return him safely to
      us. Do you know where he is?" the leaflet added.

      Prime Minister Tony Blair, to whom Bigley appealed in a videotape, has
      kept quiet for fear of inflaming the crisis.

      That stance has contrasted with French President Jacques Chirac's
      public appeals for the release of two French journalists being held
      hostage.

      Bigley's relatives have accused the government of not doing enough to
      save him, but now seem to have accepted London's line that it cannot
      negotiate for fear of encouraging future kidnaps.

      Blair was at his Chequers country residence on Friday, preparing a
      speech to next week's conference of his ruling Labour Party, sure to be
      dominated by Iraq.

      Since sending British troops to take part in the U.S.-led invasion in
      March 2003, Blair's popularity has plummeted.

      The Bigley kidnapping has come just as he believed he had turned a
      corner and could re-focus Britons on domestic issues ahead of an
      election expected next May.
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